Our Note-Taking Hypocrisy


Lauren Gherman, Staff Writer

At the beginning of the month, during Meeting for Worship, the question was posed, “What else can we do to preserve our environment?” This topic is something that interested me, so after some thought, I came to the conclusion that if students didn’t use any paper and only their devices, we could save hundreds of trees. We are required to have a device at school in order to take notes, do research, and advance our learning outside of the classroom, so why is it that so few of us are allowed to take notes on our devices? Does this policy go against the SPICES?

As part of simplicity in the SPICES, the school teaches us to value everything that we have and to use it to its fullest potential. So it becomes controversial when students, who are required to have a device, are told that they must also have a notebook, or notebooks, for each class. Not only is it wasteful of the limited resources, but also harder to organize, which is physically not simplistic; it is much easier to organize your notes when they are all in one place, rather than if they are spread out in 6 or 7 notebooks.

As the administration tries to diversify our school and help students from all areas join the SSFS community, they give financial aid to those who can’t afford the full tuition. However, requiring  students to buy notebooks for each class in addition to owning a device could place an economic strain on many families. The average price of a notebook is around $8, if you are required to have a notebook for each class that’s $56, and if you have to have multiple books for one class or if you fill up a notebook before the year is over, then the cost can be more. While this might not seem like a lot of money for some families, it can be to others; and telling parents that they have to buy these supplies for the child creates an imbalance between families of varying incomes, dividing our community and creating inequality, which both threaten our upholding the SPICES.

As we all know, paper comes from trees, and telling students to by 6-7 notebooks per year begins to put a strain on the environment. A study from the University of Southern Indiana (https://www.usi.edu/recycle/paper-recycling-facts/) said that it takes about 6% of one tree to make a notebook, and on average 85,000,000 tons of paper are used a year. If students alone stopped using notebooks and switched to something eco friendly, like computers, then hundreds of tons of paper could be saved. Even one school could cut that number down significantly. This would allow us to uphold our Stewardship responsibility within the SPICES, working to protect the earth and the “green” status our school values.

The other side of this argument is also valid. Students might become distracted by their computers and forget to take notes and participate in class. Studies from Oxford Learning have also shown that hand writing notes helps get the information into students’ long-term memory and teaches them to write down information that is actually useful and not what is just on the board, a skill that does prove invaluable (https://www.oxfordlearning.com/5-effective-note-taking-methods/).

While this is not any easy issue to solve, it is something that should be seriously considered by the administration and Torch. Allowing students to take notes on a device would cut down on organizational clutter, financial strain, and environmental impact. As trusted students at SSFS, we should be allowed to make the decision of paper or electronic notes for ourselves. This issue won’t be solved overnight, but with the help of Torch and the administration, a solution might be found.